Youth Leader Cohort: A Testimony of its Tremendous Impact on an EPC Youth Leader

The powerful testimony of Mikey Pitts, Director of Middle School Ministries at Bay Presbyterian Church (Bay Village, OH) was one of the factors that convinced EPC Student Ministries of the importance of this new “Coaching in Community” approach for the long term fruitfulness of youth ministries in our churches and the retention of solid leaders.

Overall Impression:
“I have been significantly blessed, empowered, and encouraged in all areas through my participation Had it not been for my involvement in this cohort I was on a fast track for burnout and discontentment making me just another statistic.”

What was your ministry experience, including why you joined the Cohort initially?

I have been serving 5 years at Bay Presbyterian Church in Bay Village, OH. We’re a congregation of about 2,200 and we recently joined the EPC.

In 2003, I purchased my first youth ministry resource, which was a book of talk outlines by Mark Oestreicher. Marko’s book saved my hide that first year of youth.

I initially joined the cohort because it was a chance to study youth ministry under Marko. I was also at a pivotal place in ministry where my wife and I were praying through if it was time to put the resume out there. To my surprise my proposal to attend the Cohort was approved and financed by our congregation. My wife and I really felt like it was God giving us a second wind at BPC.

What have you learned about yourself and ministry in the Cohort?

Marko is all about healthy personal development both spiritually and emotionally. I have learned a lot about myself that frankly, I would have had a hard time receiving in other environments. These issues and insecurities were creating problems in my ministry and with my church staff relationships. These same problems are what cause us (youth workers) to jump from church to church.

Marko emphasizes values based ministry in a world that revolves around an attractional shallow youth ministry. I learned that I had been trying to keep up with the Joneses, and had been designing a ministry for a community, culture, and set of students I didn’t have. So for the past several months, and Marko’s encouragement, I as well as my other cohorts have taken up ministry values discernment teams. It’s amazing how God is honoring and speaking into our direction and how it is lining up with our churches values.

How has the Cohort helped you grow personally and professionally?

Personally, I am more self-aware of my strengths and weaknesses. I can honestly say that this cohort has strengthened my marriage as I have learned the gift of presence and listening.

Professionally, I am more self-aware of my strengths and my weaknesses. I am beginning to lead from my values that are translating into significant ministerial health and growth. These days I am less attracted to the hype and pop of flashy student ministries that trap so many youth workers.

My Senior Pastor told me that he wished he had learned what
I am learning when he was my age.

How has your participation in the Cohort affected/benefitted your youth?

I have been exploring teaching techniques and styles that are developmentally appropriate for 5-8th grade students. My students come back remembering the faith concept/story piece we discussed the week before.

We spent some significant time discussing context culture; Every event, environment, ministry night of the week, and/or time frame now accent the flow of our community.

One of the big problems in ministry is knowing when and how to introduce change both personally and professionally. I now take time to really figure out how to walk my leaders and parents through the significant program changes.

Lastly, I have learned how to relinquish my perfectionist control of the ministry. Now we are seeing what God is doing and not how well I can plan and coordinate.

What are your final thoughts?

In closing, the thing that still blows me away to this day is how accessible Marko is to us. He genuinely cares for us as individuals and the ministries that we lead. The other youth workers in my cohort have become family and will be lifelong kingdom partners.

I think the EPC would see significant fruit in its churches if youth workers got the chance to experience the personal growth of a Coaching Program Cohort.

Click here to read the full interview with Mikey.  

For More Information:
Please contact Susan Holland, Student and College Ministries Coordinator, at or (734) 838‐6952 by our early-bird date of February 7,th, 2013.

Making an inquiry or signing up by the early bird date will allow you to participate in the decision-making process concerning the timing and locations of the 6 meetings, during this one-year program.

For more details regarding the EPC Youth Leader Cohorts, please go to the following webpage: http://www.epc.org/youth-leaders-cohort/.